The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

June 13, 2013

Ariel Castro pleads not guilty in Cleveland kidnapping case

CLEVELAND — A man accused of holding three women captive in his home for about a decade pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hundreds of rape and kidnapping charges, and the defense hinted at avoiding a trial with a plea deal if the death penalty were ruled out.

The death penalty is in play because among the accusations facing Ariel Castro, 52, is that he forced a miscarriage by one of the women, which is considered a killing under Ohio law. That charge doesn’t include a possible death penalty, but a prosecutor has said that’s under review.

The women disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with the family of one girl and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.

Castro, dressed Wednesday in an orange jail outfit with his hands and ankles shackled and a full dark beard grown in jail, kept his chin tucked on his chest through a brief court appearance. He didn’t speak or glance at his two attorneys standing by his side.

Attorney Craig Weintraub acknowledged afterward that “certain charges in the indictment cannot be disputed” and said the defense was working to avoid an “unnecessary trial” with a possible death penalty sentence.

“Mr. Castro currently faces hundreds of years in prison with the current charges,” Weintraub said. “It is our hope that we can continue to work toward a resolution to avoid having an unnecessary trial about aggravated murder and the death penalty.”

The prosecutor’s office will look at the defense remarks but had no immediate comment, said Joe Frolik, spokesman for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.

The 329-count indictment returned Friday covered only the period from August 2002, when the first of the women disappeared, to February 2007. More charges could be filed.

Castro was indicted on 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools. He was also charged with two counts of aggravated murder related to one act, saying he purposely caused the unlawful termination of one of the pregnancies of one of the women.

Michelle Knight, now 32, has told investigators Castro punched her in the abdomen and starved her to force five miscarriages, according to police reports.

Ohio enacted a fetal homicide law in 1996, making it illegal to kill or injure a viable fetus. That law and similar ones in 37 other states have been used mainly to win convictions in car crashes in which pregnant women died or in cases involving attacks on expectant mothers.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for child rapes in which no death occurred, spelling out that a killing is the only crime eligible for the death penalty outside of a crime against the state.

A death penalty case against Castro “would raise serious legal questions about whether a murder has occurred and whether such a death sentence complies” with the Supreme Court ruling, according to Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.

Weintraub, the defense attorney, said he expects a decision from prosecutors on the death penalty might hinge on medical and forensic evidence, such as any fetal tissue that may have been found at the home. Investigations haven’t detailed what evidence was found.

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 24, 2014

  • UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 24, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

    July 24, 2014

  • Troubled childhoods may prompt men to volunteer for military service

    In the era of the all-volunteer U.S. military, men who served are more than twice as likely as those who never did to have been sexually abused as children and to have grown up around domestic violence and substance abuse, a new study has found.

    July 24, 2014

  • As poverty continues to rise, fewer Ohioans are receiving state aid

    The number of Ohioans receiving public assistance continues to drop even while poverty increases, raising questions about how the state helps the poor.

    July 24, 2014

  • ’Saltwater’ from fracking spill much different from ocean water

    In early July, a million gallons of salty drilling waste spilled from a pipeline onto a steep hillside in western North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation. The waste — a byproduct of oil and gas production — has now reached a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water to the reservation.

    July 24, 2014

  • 40 bodies from jet solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 23, 2014

  • U.S. pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    The United States announced signs of progress in cease-fire talks Wednesday, but prospects for a quick end to the fighting were dim as Palestinian families fled fierce battles in southern Gaza and the death toll rose to more than 700 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.

    July 23, 2014

  • GROUNDED U.S., other countries ban flights to and from Israel

    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on all flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over Ukraine.

    July 23, 2014

  • REPORT: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

    A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

    July 22, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video